Kevin, great post. Anyone who thinks that anything less than a budget balanced in the current fiscal year is inadequate to the scale of the problem, should ask themselves these questions in order:
1) What line item cuts, if any, would have to be eliminated or scaled back Kevin’s plan for you to support it? None? Fine. Proceed to question (2).
2) What line item cuts, if any, would have to be eliminated or scaled back in Kevin’s plan in order for it to serve as the basis of a GOP (or third party, if you like) platform that could garner majorities in both Houses of Congress and the presidency? You say we shouldn’t make this our official policy until after we control Congress and the White House? Fine, proceed to question (3).
3) Assuming Republicans already hold majorities in Congress and the White House, what line item cuts, if any, would have to be eliminated or scaled back in Kevin’s plan in order for it to serve as the basis of a platform that could at minimum ensure the retention 41 votes in the United States Senate (to prevent the steady erosion of our gains)?
I don’t think there are satisfying answers to be had here. And yet, if we were talking about effecting Williamson’s program over the course of a decade (and in the case of the entitlements, perhaps a bit longer, say 20 years), I think that would be much more doable. Gradualism and piecemeal deal-making ain’t fun. They ain’t satisfying, they ain’t sexy, and they sure as hell make for bad political slogans. But credible alternatives aren’t exactly growing on trees. Like it or not, the Ryan budget, which
doesn’t even barely achieves “primary balance” (let alone actual balance) in the first ten years, is far outside the Overton Window window at the moment. Some seem to think that the fact that there is no durable public consensus behind something like the Ryan plan — let alone a plan that would actually balance the budget — is irrelevant. That somehow we can and should work to enact such a plan — and disavow anything short of such a plan — without first moving the Window via incremental change. By all means, call me a RINO, but I just don’t see how, as a matter of sheer, brute fact, this is possible. Short of — well, short of armed insurrection.